Saturday, October 10, 2015

Born 100 Years Ago Today: A Tribute to My Grandmother

My grandmother, Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle, was born 100 years ago today. Though she died in 2004 at the age of 88, I'm paying tribute to her by sharing part of her life's story in words and photos.

Evelyn was the fifth child born to James Bedford & Nora (Ward) Dickson. Both the Ward and Dickson families had lived in Perry County, Tennessee for generations. But, for some reason, Evelyn was born about 100 miles away in Newbern, Dyer County, Tennessee on October 10th, 1915.

Sadly, when Evelyn was only 8 1/2 months old, her mother died. I remember Grandma telling me her mom died from "eating too many fresh vegetables," but the death certificate says her cause of death was "billious dysentery." Evelyn's mother was only 30 years old.

This is the only photo we have of my grandmother as a young child. She's about 2 and she's holding a pet chicken, most likely in Perry County, Tennessee. On the left is Elsie Jo Ward (age ~14), one of grandmother's first cousins, who is also holding a chicken. In the middle is Sallie (age ~58), the grandmother who raised my Grandmother Evelyn. And, on the right is Ethel Ward (~20), Sallie's youngest daughter. I scanned this photo at my grandmother's house about 15 years ago. I don't know what has become of the original.

Though Evelyn's dad evidently felt comfortable taking care of the older children (who were ages 12, 10, 8, & 4), he must have decided baby Evelyn would be better off with her maternal grandmother. So, Evelyn was raised by her widowed grandmother, Sallie (Dickson) Ward.

Evelyn lived with her grandmother in Marsh Creek, Perry County, Tennessee surrounded by family including her father, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In the 1920 census, 4-year-old Evelyn was living with her grandmother and two unmarried uncles: Uncle Lowry and Uncle Grady. In 1930, she was still living in Marsh Creek with her grandmother, Sallie, and Uncle Lowry.

This is a photo of my grandfather and grandmother, Evelyn, taken in 1941 either right before or right after they were married in Ohio. The original is in my mother's possession.
Around 1941, at the age of 25, Evelyn met Sherman Kaechle who was working at a farm in Tennessee. They traveled to Toledo, Ohio where Sherman had family, and were married on July 5th, 1941. Though they lived in Tennessee for a few years, Evelyn would live most of the rest of her life in Indiana.

Although she didn't grow up in the same house as her father and older siblings, she still had a nice relationship with them. This is a photo of my Grandmother Evelyn, on the right, with her father, James B Dickson, in the middle, and oldest sister, Bernie, on the left. Original photo in possession of my mother.

Evelyn and her husband, Sherman Kaechle, with the first of their 7 children

Evelyn's first 4 children, a son then 3 daughters, were born within just 4 years of each other. Her fifth child, a son, was born 6 1/2 years later. The last two boys, born less than 12 months apart, weren't born for another 5 years. Altogether, Evelyn raised 7 children, 4 sons and 3 daughters. The oldest child was 16 1/2 when the last baby was born.

Grandmother Evelyn (Dickson) Kaechle with my siblings and me (I'm on far right)
Evelyn survived breast cancer in 1986. But, 8 years later, the cancer returned; this time it attacked her bones. My mother took care of Grandma for several months at home. Eventually, though, Grandma was moved to hospice.

My mother, daughter, and I got to spend those last few days with her, though she responded very little. I held her hand and my 3-year-old daughter and I sang hymns to her. It was a sweet, but sad, time as I watched Grandma slip away. Peacefully, in the middle of the night on June 6th, 2004, Grandma Kaechle breathed her last. I believe she went home to be with her Lord where I will one day see her again.

4 comments:

  1. Very nice tribute. And I love the picture with the pet chickens. Priceless!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Raul. Yes, the picture with the pet chickens IS priceless! I wish I'd have asked my grandmother more about it. And, I'm wondering if I can get it "fixed up" some even though we no longer know where the original is. I have my copy which was scanned at KMart years ago. :)

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  2. What a nice tribute and the picture of her with the chicken is priceless!

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